Mountain Heritage Center exhibit to look at Latino life in North Carolina

Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center will host an exhibit by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist José Galvez on Latino life in North Carolina in the museum’s second-floor gallery at Hunter Library.

The center’s first bilingual exhibit, “Al Norte al Norte” will be on display Monday, Jan. 13, through Friday, April 10. Admission is free.

José Galvez

The 51 black-and-white photos are from a 10-year project to capture images of daily life of Latinos living in North Carolina, from business owners to farmers at work, multi-generations of families at home and at church, and other candid moments.

Galvez will visit campus, with details pending, in early April in conjunction with WCU’s second annual Southeastern Latinx Student Leadership Conference. In addition to participating in the conference, he will visit WCU classes, lead tours of the exhibit and present public programs.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 8.4 percent of the state’s population is Latino.

“I’ve been surprised by the sheer determination of people wanting to fit in, just to work, wanting to provide for family,” said Galvez, a Durham resident.

Galvez was part of a team at the Los Angeles Times newspaper that was awarded the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for a series on Latino life in southern California. He’s collaborated with writers such as Luis Alberto Urrea and Patricia Martin, and published a book about his childhood, titled “Shine Boy.” His current work focuses on Latino communities of the South, naturalization ceremonies and documenting the many communities he visits each year.

“Al Norte al Norte” received support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, with additional funding from the N.C. Humanities Council and the North Carolina Museum of History Associates. The traveling exhibit at WCU is made possible by the North Carolina Arts Council and the university.

Diana Bell-Kite, a curator at the N.C. Museum of History, worked with Galvez on developing the exhibit. “The photos capture a diverse community with a huge range of skills and lifestyles,” Bell-Kite said. “They are entrepreneurs and professionals, people working a variety of different jobs.”

The Mountain Heritage Center gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, call the museum at 828-227-7129.